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1.  In Silico Mechanistic Profiling to Probe Small Molecule Binding to Sulfotransferases 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73587.
Drug metabolizing enzymes play a key role in the metabolism, elimination and detoxification of xenobiotics, drugs and endogenous molecules. While their principal role is to detoxify organisms by modifying compounds, such as pollutants or drugs, for a rapid excretion, in some cases they render their substrates more toxic thereby inducing severe side effects and adverse drug reactions, or their inhibition can lead to drug–drug interactions. We focus on sulfotransferases (SULTs), a family of phase II metabolizing enzymes, acting on a large number of drugs and hormones and showing important structural flexibility. Here we report a novel in silico structure-based approach to probe ligand binding to SULTs. We explored the flexibility of SULTs by molecular dynamics (MD) simulations in order to identify the most suitable multiple receptor conformations for ligand binding prediction. Then, we employed structure-based docking-scoring approach to predict ligand binding and finally we combined the predicted interaction energies by using a QSAR methodology. The results showed that our protocol successfully prioritizes potent binders for the studied here SULT1 isoforms, and give new insights on specific molecular mechanisms for diverse ligands’ binding related to their binding sites plasticity. Our best QSAR models, introducing predicted protein-ligand interaction energy by using docking, showed accuracy of 67.28%, 78.00% and 75.46%, for the isoforms SULT1A1, SULT1A3 and SULT1E1, respectively. To the best of our knowledge our protocol is the first in silico structure-based approach consisting of a protein-ligand interaction analysis at atomic level that considers both ligand and enzyme flexibility, along with a QSAR approach, to identify small molecules that can interact with II phase dug metabolizing enzymes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0073587
PMCID: PMC3765257  PMID: 24039991
2.  Insights into an Original Pocket-Ligand Pair Classification: A Promising Tool for Ligand Profile Prediction 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e63730.
Pockets are today at the cornerstones of modern drug discovery projects and at the crossroad of several research fields, from structural biology to mathematical modeling. Being able to predict if a small molecule could bind to one or more protein targets or if a protein could bind to some given ligands is very useful for drug discovery endeavors, anticipation of binding to off- and anti-targets. To date, several studies explore such questions from chemogenomic approach to reverse docking methods. Most of these studies have been performed either from the viewpoint of ligands or targets. However it seems valuable to use information from both ligands and target binding pockets. Hence, we present a multivariate approach relating ligand properties with protein pocket properties from the analysis of known ligand-protein interactions. We explored and optimized the pocket-ligand pair space by combining pocket and ligand descriptors using Principal Component Analysis and developed a classification engine on this paired space, revealing five main clusters of pocket-ligand pairs sharing specific and similar structural or physico-chemical properties. These pocket-ligand pair clusters highlight correspondences between pocket and ligand topological and physico-chemical properties and capture relevant information with respect to protein-ligand interactions. Based on these pocket-ligand correspondences, a protocol of prediction of clusters sharing similarity in terms of recognition characteristics is developed for a given pocket-ligand complex and gives high performances. It is then extended to cluster prediction for a given pocket in order to acquire knowledge about its expected ligand profile or to cluster prediction for a given ligand in order to acquire knowledge about its expected pocket profile. This prediction approach shows promising results and could contribute to predict some ligand properties critical for binding to a given pocket, and conversely, some key pocket properties for ligand binding.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0063730
PMCID: PMC3688729  PMID: 23840299
3.  Computational analysis of protein-protein interfaces involving an alpha helix: insights for terphenyl–like molecules binding 
Background
Protein-Protein Interactions (PPIs) are key for many cellular processes. The characterization of PPI interfaces and the prediction of putative ligand binding sites and hot spot residues are essential to design efficient small-molecule modulators of PPI. Terphenyl and its derivatives are small organic molecules known to mimic one face of protein-binding alpha-helical peptides. In this work we focus on several PPIs mediated by alpha-helical peptides.
Method
We performed computational sequence- and structure-based analyses in order to evaluate several key physicochemical and surface properties of proteins known to interact with alpha-helical peptides and/or terphenyl and its derivatives.
Results
Sequence-based analysis revealed low sequence identity between some of the analyzed proteins binding alpha-helical peptides. Structure-based analysis was performed to calculate the volume, the fractal dimension roughness and the hydrophobicity of the binding regions. Besides the overall hydrophobic character of the binding pockets, some specificities were detected. We showed that the hydrophobicity is not uniformly distributed in different alpha-helix binding pockets that can help to identify key hydrophobic hot spots.
Conclusions
The presence of hydrophobic cavities at the protein surface with a more complex shape than the entire protein surface seems to be an important property related to the ability of proteins to bind alpha-helical peptides and low molecular weight mimetics. Characterization of similarities and specificities of PPI binding sites can be helpful for further development of small molecules targeting alpha-helix binding proteins.
doi:10.1186/2050-6511-14-31
PMCID: PMC3689098  PMID: 23768251
4.  A Case of Palmoplantar Pustulosis Induced by Certolizumab Pegol 
The development of de novo psoriasis in patients treated with tumor necrosis factor-alpha antagonists is well recognized. The authors hereby report a case of palmplantar pustular psoriasis in a patient with rheumatoid arthritis treated with etanercept. The condition responded to topical steroids but re-occurred upon treating the patient with certolizumab pegol. This strongly suggests that the development of de novo psoriasis is a class effect.
PMCID: PMC3424592  PMID: 22916313
5.  Analyzing Effects of Naturally Occurring Missense Mutations 
Single-point mutation in genome, for example, single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) or rare genetic mutation, is the change of a single nucleotide for another in the genome sequence. Some of them will produce an amino acid substitution in the corresponding protein sequence (missense mutations); others will not. This paper focuses on genetic mutations resulting in a change in the amino acid sequence of the corresponding protein and how to assess their effects on protein wild-type characteristics. The existing methods and approaches for predicting the effects of mutation on protein stability, structure, and dynamics are outlined and discussed with respect to their underlying principles. Available resources, either as stand-alone applications or webservers, are pointed out as well. It is emphasized that understanding the molecular mechanisms behind these effects due to these missense mutations is of critical importance for detecting disease-causing mutations. The paper provides several examples of the application of 3D structure-based methods to model the effects of protein stability and protein-protein interactions caused by missense mutations as well.
doi:10.1155/2012/805827
PMCID: PMC3346971  PMID: 22577471
6.  Tyrosine Kinase Syk Non-Enzymatic Inhibitors and Potential Anti-Allergic Drug-Like Compounds Discovered by Virtual and In Vitro Screening 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21117.
In the past decade, the spleen tyrosine kinase (Syk) has shown a high potential for the discovery of new treatments for inflammatory and autoimmune disorders. Pharmacological inhibitors of Syk catalytic site bearing therapeutic potential have been developed, with however limited specificity towards Syk. To address this topic, we opted for the design of drug-like compounds that could impede the interaction of Syk with its cellular partners while maintaining an active kinase protein. To achieve this challenging task, we used the powerful potential of intracellular antibodies for the modulation of cellular functions in vivo, combined to structure-based in silico screening. In our previous studies, we reported the anti-allergic properties of the intracellular antibody G4G11. With the aim of finding functional mimics of G4G11, we developed an Antibody Displacement Assay and we isolated the drug-like compound C-13, with promising in vivo anti-allergic activity. The likely binding cavity of this compound is located at the close vicinity of G4G11 epitope, far away from the catalytic site of Syk. Here we report the virtual screen of a collection of 500,000 molecules against this new cavity, which led to the isolation of 1000 compounds subsequently evaluated for their in vitro inhibitory effects using the Antibody Displacement Assay. Eighty five compounds were selected and evaluated for their ability to inhibit the liberation of allergic mediators from mast cells. Among them, 10 compounds inhibited degranulation with IC50 values ≤10 µM. The most bioactive compounds combine biological activity, significant inhibition of antibody binding and strong affinity for Syk. Moreover, these molecules show a good potential for oral bioavailability and are not kinase catalytic site inhibitors. These bioactive compounds could be used as starting points for the development of new classes of non-enzymatic inhibitors of Syk and for drug discovery endeavour in the field of inflammation related disorders.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021117
PMCID: PMC3118801  PMID: 21701581
7.  Exploring NMR ensembles of calcium binding proteins: Perspectives to design inhibitors of protein-protein interactions 
Background
Disrupting protein-protein interactions by small organic molecules is nowadays a promising strategy employed to block protein targets involved in different pathologies. However, structural changes occurring at the binding interfaces make difficult drug discovery processes using structure-based drug design/virtual screening approaches. Here we focused on two homologous calcium binding proteins, calmodulin and human centrin 2, involved in different cellular functions via protein-protein interactions, and known to undergo important conformational changes upon ligand binding.
Results
In order to find suitable protein conformations of calmodulin and centrin for further structure-based drug design/virtual screening, we performed in silico structural/energetic analysis and molecular docking of terphenyl (a mimicking alpha-helical molecule known to inhibit protein-protein interactions of calmodulin) into X-ray and NMR ensembles of calmodulin and centrin. We employed several scoring methods in order to find the best protein conformations. Our results show that docking on NMR structures of calmodulin and centrin can be very helpful to take into account conformational changes occurring at protein-protein interfaces.
Conclusions
NMR structures of protein-protein complexes nowadays available could efficiently be exploited for further structure-based drug design/virtual screening processes employed to design small molecule inhibitors of protein-protein interactions.
doi:10.1186/1472-6807-11-24
PMCID: PMC3116463  PMID: 21569443
8.  Frog2: Efficient 3D conformation ensemble generator for small compounds 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;38(Web Server issue):W622-W627.
Frog is a web tool dedicated to small compound 3D generation. Here we present the new version, Frog2, which allows the generation of conformation ensembles of small molecules starting from either 1D, 2D or 3D description of the compounds. From a compound description in one of the SMILES, SDF or mol2 formats, the server will return an ensemble of diverse conformers generated using a two stage Monte Carlo approach in the dihedral space. When starting from 1D or 2D description of compounds, Frog2 is capable to detect the sites of ambiguous stereoisomery, and thus to sample different stereoisomers. Frog2 also embeds new energy minimization and ring generation facilities that solve the problem of some missing cycle structures in the Frog1 ring library. Finally, the optimized generator of conformation ensembles in Frog2 results in a gain of computational time permitting Frog2 to be up to 20 times faster that Frog1, while producing satisfactory conformations in terms of structural quality and conformational diversity. The high speed and the good quality of generated conformational ensembles makes it possible the treatment of larger compound collections using Frog2. The server and documentation are freely available at http://bioserv.rpbs.univ-paris-diderot.fr/Frog2.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkq325
PMCID: PMC2896087  PMID: 20444874
9.  DG-AMMOS: A New tool to generate 3D conformation of small molecules using Distance Geometry and Automated Molecular Mechanics Optimization for in silico Screening 
Background
Discovery of new bioactive molecules that could enter drug discovery programs or that could serve as chemical probes is a very complex and costly endeavor. Structure-based and ligand-based in silico screening approaches are nowadays extensively used to complement experimental screening approaches in order to increase the effectiveness of the process and facilitating the screening of thousands or millions of small molecules against a biomolecular target. Both in silico screening methods require as input a suitable chemical compound collection and most often the 3D structure of the small molecules has to be generated since compounds are usually delivered in 1D SMILES, CANSMILES or in 2D SDF formats.
Results
Here, we describe the new open source program DG-AMMOS which allows the generation of the 3D conformation of small molecules using Distance Geometry and their energy minimization via Automated Molecular Mechanics Optimization. The program is validated on the Astex dataset, the ChemBridge Diversity database and on a number of small molecules with known crystal structures extracted from the Cambridge Structural Database. A comparison with the free program Balloon and the well-known commercial program Omega generating the 3D of small molecules is carried out. The results show that the new free program DG-AMMOS is a very efficient 3D structure generator engine.
Conclusion
DG-AMMOS provides fast, automated and reliable access to the generation of 3D conformation of small molecules and facilitates the preparation of a compound collection prior to high-throughput virtual screening computations. The validation of DG-AMMOS on several different datasets proves that generated structures are generally of equal quality or sometimes better than structures obtained by other tested methods.
doi:10.1186/1472-6769-9-6
PMCID: PMC2781789  PMID: 19912625
10.  AMMOS: Automated Molecular Mechanics Optimization tool for in silico Screening 
BMC Bioinformatics  2008;9:438.
Background
Virtual or in silico ligand screening combined with other computational methods is one of the most promising methods to search for new lead compounds, thereby greatly assisting the drug discovery process. Despite considerable progresses made in virtual screening methodologies, available computer programs do not easily address problems such as: structural optimization of compounds in a screening library, receptor flexibility/induced-fit, and accurate prediction of protein-ligand interactions. It has been shown that structural optimization of chemical compounds and that post-docking optimization in multi-step structure-based virtual screening approaches help to further improve the overall efficiency of the methods. To address some of these points, we developed the program AMMOS for refining both, the 3D structures of the small molecules present in chemical libraries and the predicted receptor-ligand complexes through allowing partial to full atom flexibility through molecular mechanics optimization.
Results
The program AMMOS carries out an automatic procedure that allows for the structural refinement of compound collections and energy minimization of protein-ligand complexes using the open source program AMMP. The performance of our package was evaluated by comparing the structures of small chemical entities minimized by AMMOS with those minimized with the Tripos and MMFF94s force fields. Next, AMMOS was used for full flexible minimization of protein-ligands complexes obtained from a mutli-step virtual screening. Enrichment studies of the selected pre-docked complexes containing 60% of the initially added inhibitors were carried out with or without final AMMOS minimization on two protein targets having different binding pocket properties. AMMOS was able to improve the enrichment after the pre-docking stage with 40 to 60% of the initially added active compounds found in the top 3% to 5% of the entire compound collection.
Conclusion
The open source AMMOS program can be helpful in a broad range of in silico drug design studies such as optimization of small molecules or energy minimization of pre-docked protein-ligand complexes. Our enrichment study suggests that AMMOS, designed to minimize a large number of ligands pre-docked in a protein target, can successfully be applied in a final post-processing step and that it can take into account some receptor flexibility within the binding site area.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-9-438
PMCID: PMC2588602  PMID: 18925937
11.  FAF-Drugs2: Free ADME/tox filtering tool to assist drug discovery and chemical biology projects 
BMC Bioinformatics  2008;9:396.
Background
Drug discovery and chemical biology are exceedingly complex and demanding enterprises. In recent years there are been increasing awareness about the importance of predicting/optimizing the absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion and toxicity (ADMET) properties of small chemical compounds along the search process rather than at the final stages. Fast methods for evaluating ADMET properties of small molecules often involve applying a set of simple empirical rules (educated guesses) and as such, compound collections' property profiling can be performed in silico. Clearly, these rules cannot assess the full complexity of the human body but can provide valuable information and assist decision-making.
Results
This paper presents FAF-Drugs2, a free adaptable tool for ADMET filtering of electronic compound collections. FAF-Drugs2 is a command line utility program (e.g., written in Python) based on the open source chemistry toolkit OpenBabel, which performs various physicochemical calculations, identifies key functional groups, some toxic and unstable molecules/functional groups. In addition to filtered collections, FAF-Drugs2 can provide, via Gnuplot, several distribution diagrams of major physicochemical properties of the screened compound libraries.
Conclusion
We have developed FAF-Drugs2 to facilitate compound collection preparation, prior to (or after) experimental screening or virtual screening computations. Users can select to apply various filtering thresholds and add rules as needed for a given project. As it stands, FAF-Drugs2 implements numerous filtering rules (23 physicochemical rules and 204 substructure searching rules) that can be easily tuned.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-9-396
PMCID: PMC2561050  PMID: 18816385
12.  MS-DOCK: Accurate multiple conformation generator and rigid docking protocol for multi-step virtual ligand screening 
BMC Bioinformatics  2008;9:184.
Background
The number of protein targets with a known or predicted tri-dimensional structure and of drug-like chemical compounds is growing rapidly and so is the need for new therapeutic compounds or chemical probes. Performing flexible structure-based virtual screening computations on thousands of targets with millions of molecules is intractable to most laboratories nor indeed desirable. Since shape complementarity is of primary importance for most protein-ligand interactions, we have developed a tool/protocol based on rigid-body docking to select compounds that fit well into binding sites.
Results
Here we present an efficient multiple conformation rigid-body docking approach, MS-DOCK, which is based on the program DOCK. This approach can be used as the first step of a multi-stage docking/scoring protocol. First, we developed and validated the Multiconf-DOCK tool that generates several conformers per input ligand. Then, each generated conformer (bioactives and 37970 decoys) was docked rigidly using DOCK6 with our optimized protocol into seven different receptor-binding sites. MS-DOCK was able to significantly reduce the size of the initial input library for all seven targets, thereby facilitating subsequent more CPU demanding flexible docking procedures.
Conclusion
MS-DOCK can be easily used for the generation of multi-conformer libraries and for shape-based filtering within a multi-step structure-based screening protocol in order to shorten computation times.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-9-184
PMCID: PMC2373571  PMID: 18402678
13.  Screening Outside the Catalytic Site: Inhibition of Macromolecular Inter-actions Through Structure-Based Virtual Ligand Screening Experiments 
During these last 15 years, drug discovery strategies have essentially focused on identifying small molecules able to inhibit catalytic sites. However, other mechanisms could be targeted. Protein-protein interactions play crucial roles in a number of biological processes, and, as such, their disruption or stabilization is becoming an area of intense activity. Along the same line, inhibition of protein-membrane could be of major importance in several disease indications. Despite the many challenges associated with the development of such classes of interaction modulators, there has been considerable success in the recent years. Importantly, through the existence of protein hot-spots and the presence of druggable pockets at the macromolecular interfaces or in their vicinities, it has been possible to find small molecule effectors using a variety of screening techniques, including combined virtual ligand-in vitro screening strategy. Indeed such in silico-in vitro protocols emerge as the method of choice to facilitate our quest of novel drug-like compounds or of mechanistic probes aiming at facilitating the understanding of molecular reactions involved in the Health and Disease process. In this review, we comment recent successes of combined in silico-in vitro screening methods applied to modulating macromolecular interactions with a special emphasis on protein-membrane interactions.
doi:10.2174/1874091X00802010029
PMCID: PMC2570552  PMID: 18949072
Virtual screening; structure-based drug design; drug discovery; protein-protein interaction; protein-membrane interaction
14.  FAF-Drugs: free ADME/tox filtering of compound collections 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;34(Web Server issue):W738-W744.
In silico screening based on the structures of the ligands or of the receptors has become an essential tool to facilitate the drug discovery process but compound collections are needed to carry out such in silico experiments. It has been recognized that absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion and toxicity (ADME/tox) are key properties that need to be considered early on, even during the database preparation stage. FAF-Drugs is an online service based on Frowns (a chemoinformatics toolkit) that allows users to process their own compound collections via simple ADME/Tox filtering rules such as molecular weight, polar surface area, logP or number of rotatable bonds. SMILES (Simplified Molecular Input Line Entry System), CANSMILES (canonical smiles) or SDF (structure data file) files are required as input and molecules that pass or do not pass the filters are sent back in CANSMILES format. This service should thus help scientists engaging in drug discovery campaigns. Other utilities and several compound collections suitable for in silico screening are available at our site. FAF-Drugs can be accessed at .
doi:10.1093/nar/gkl065
PMCID: PMC1538885  PMID: 16845110
15.  PCE: web tools to compute protein continuum electrostatics 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(Web Server issue):W372-W375.
PCE (protein continuum electrostatics) is an online service for protein electrostatic computations presently based on the MEAD (macroscopic electrostatics with atomic detail) package initially developed by D. Bashford [(2004) Front Biosci., 9, 1082–1099]. This computer method uses a macroscopic electrostatic model for the calculation of protein electrostatic properties, such as pKa values of titratable groups and electrostatic potentials. The MEAD package generates electrostatic energies via finite difference solution to the Poisson–Boltzmann equation. Users submit a PDB file and PCE returns potentials and pKa values as well as color (static or animated) figures displaying electrostatic potentials mapped on the molecular surface. This service is intended to facilitate electrostatics analyses of proteins and thereby broaden the accessibility to continuum electrostatics to the biological community. PCE can be accessed at .
doi:10.1093/nar/gki365
PMCID: PMC1160126  PMID: 15980492

Results 1-15 (15)